Images, Copyright, and the Public Domain in the 19th Century - Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library
Winterthur is closed to the public January 8 - February 28, and reopens March 1 with a full slate of new exhibitions, house tours, and programs. Details here.


Why did copyright law protect engraved reproductions but not paintings or sculptures for most of the 19th century? Was the new photographic medium responsible for the challenges that brought about a modern legal framework for artistic authorship? As artworks crossed national borders and changes in production technology made images more readily available than ever before, what rights belonged to their creators, purchasers, and publishers? Did individuals have ownership of their own likeness? Was it legal or culturally acceptable to reproduce or transform a picture into other forms?


Join historians of material culture, art, law, and literature for a series of focused talks and debates about the relationship between copyright law and the cultural, economic, and technological factors that transformed the pictorial landscape of the 19th century. Copyright policies had, and continue to have, a profound impact on the creation and circulation of creative works. This Winterthur conference invites you to explore a formative moment in the history of law and the visual arts in America.


Registration date for this conference will be updated soon.

In partnership with LARCA (Laboratoire de recherches sur les cultures anglophones) and Université Paris Diderot and with the generous support of the Terra Foundation for American Art

Image at top: Painting of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart, Philadelphia, 1795–96. Gift of Henry Francis du Pont 1957.0857; Painting on glass, China, 1802–10. Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont 1960.0569; Engraving by Gilbert Stuart. Museum purchase 1976.0047

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